LET’S GET IT STARTED
What’re we waitin’ for? Let’s kick it off!
The first and subsequent weeks prior to conference play are the most difficult to track as there are more games to keep an eye on. And some are relegated to obscure TV channels that I can’t access. But according to the TV schedule I have, it looks like I’ll get to see enough games to keep me occupied. Only got time for Saturdays so I may not get to stay tuned to the Minnesota or Rutgers game on Thursday. Will have to see how it goes. Definitely won’t see Michigan St. on Friday, but considering the opponent (Jacksonville St.), I’m not all that heartbroken. One of the downsides to this portion of the season is the mismatches as many teams like to schedule “cupcake” opponents at home in order to “tune up” and pad their overall record. But there are a few good matchups, and the two best will bookend the day as Penn St. faces UCF about an hour after sunrise (CDT) while Wisconsin closes out the evening with a night game against LSU. I’d like to see Ohio St. play Navy but it looks like I’ll get shut out of that one (CBSSN? Pretty sure I don’t get that channel). I don’t get ESPNU so I won’t get to see Purdue in a game that could be competitive against Western Michigan. But I am looking forward to Northwestern hosting Cal, and of course, my Fighting Irish opening at home against Rice. The rest of the conference games should be “yawners” as they are against non-FBS teams.
Saturday's Menu: 10oz marinated filet mignon cooked on the Weber, Baked Potato and Salad w/Ranch Dressing.
I have never predicted any week 1 games for ATS purposes. Preseason speculation is not enough information for me to commit any FTC dollars. I like for the teams I’m considering to have at least one game under their belt, preferably a game that I was able to watch. And given this year’s change in format –I’m not predicting any non-conference games other than Notre Dame games- this section of the blog will start off slow as week 2 will only produce one game to predict, week 3 will produce two games, and week 4 won’t have any. After that, it’s anywhere from five to eight games a week totaling 67 games for the whole season. So in the absence of any games to predict, I’m offering some bold… well, suggestions. I won’t call ‘em predictions ‘cuz these thoughts are more of a hunch than something I’d bet on.
1- Neither Michigan St. QB Connor Cook nor Penn St. QB Christian Hackenberg will be first team Big Ten.
Well, maybe one of them will by default, but I don’t think either will live up to what I think are inflated expectations. I’ll be wrong, though, if they pick up where they left off last season. But that’s not a given. Cook couldn’t win the job at the start of last season and was mostly horrible even as late as October. Hackenberg turned in two great games to close out the season, so maybe he’s grown into the QB the media has hyped him up to be, but up to that point he really didn’t play that well. Unless, like the media, you want to give him excessive credit for completing “hail Mary” passes to now departed WR Allen Robinson.
2-Michigan St. won’t even win their division, much less the conference championship.
Part of this coincides with the above comments about Cook. I think it will be difficult for MSU to duplicate last season’s performance. They can talk about handling success all they want, but even at the professional level it’s been proven easier said than done.
3- Iowa QB Jake Ruddock will lead Iowa to a division title.
The division title may not be a bold statement as many are picking the Hawkeyes based mostly on what’s considered an easy schedule. But, in large part because of Ruddock, I like Iowa regardless of the schedule. Of course he has to stay healthy, but if he does I think he’ll be one of the best QB’s in the conference. I also think he won’t get the credit he deserves because his strength is game management as opposed to flashy statistics.
4-Every conference team will finish the regular season with at least two losses.
I’m counting the conference championship game as part of the regular season, here. Obviously inter-conference play eliminates the possibility of several teams finishing with one or fewer losses, but I don’t think any of the upper echelon teams are strong enough to avoid stumbling unexpectedly. Probably wouldn’t make this statement if Ohio St. QB Braxton Miller is healthy.
5- I’ll be right about all of the above.
This is the boldest statement among this list. College football is a changing landscape throughout the season. Unlike past seasons, I’m not going to submit a prediction for the final standings. It makes for interesting discussion in the summer, but history has shown us that no one’s predictions are ever fulfilled. One thing we can count on, though. There will be upsets and there will be teams and players that surprise us.